Frigid winds blasting across Moffat County leveled the playing field for what the girls on the Steamboat Springs soccer team thought would be a blowout in their favor.
"I think we went in expecting too many things," Steamboat senior Angela Palaniuk said of Tuesday afternoon's game in Craig, recalling her team's lop-sided 8-0 victory against Moffat County on March 16.
But the Bulldogs deadlocked the score at 0-0 for 60 minutes, keeping the Sailors from creating serious scoring opportunities for most of the game. Steamboat (8-1-1) finally scored twice to end the half, 2-0, and defeat Moffat (0-5-1).
The southeasterly gusts of wind had as much to do with the early flow of the game as any of the players on the field.
"The wind was brutal, I felt like we going zero miles an hour," Palaniuk said.
Trying to push the ball out of its defensive zone into the wind proved just as frustrating for Steamboat as organizing offensive runs through a stingy Moffat defense.
With consistent pressure from the Bulldogs, the ball remained in the Sailors end of the field for the majority of the first half.
"We just, hands down, played well," Moffat County coach Seth Young said. "We were working the ball well with short passes, switching fields and picking up our heads."
Moffat County sweeper Catherine Compton turned back a breakaway from Mandi DeVos, and goalkeeper Heather Brown made a nice tackle to end the half.
"We set her back instead of playing her forward and she really came alive," Young said of Compton.
With the tables turned and the wind behind the Sailors, Steamboat opened the second half with much more offensive urgency as Emily Birch and Carly Earp each took a crack at the goal. But Brown stood strong, stopping both shots on her way to 10 saves.
Moffat answered with its best scoring chances, but Steamboat came up with a couple key tackles from fullback Amanda Tegtmeier and from goalie Hanna Berglund, who came out of the net to challenge Moffat striker Ashleigh Mann's breakaway.
Steamboat got on the board 20 minutes into the half as Lauren Letson dribbled down the right side and centered the ball to a streaking DeVos.
As the Moffat pressure waned, Steamboat began to dominate possession time and generated of flurry of late scoring opportunities. Aila Bereznak passed to Letson, who chipped in a tight shot over Brown to seal the win.
"Up until that last 10 minutes there, they were giving it their all," Young said. "I think this will be a real confidence builder."
Moffat plays at 4 p.m., Friday at home versus Palisade.